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STRUCTURAL FUNDS : TALKS ON FUTURE OF COHESION POLICY DRAG ON.

No white smoke yet. The three-way talks on the future of the EU's cohesion policy, held late on 14 October, did not result in an agreement. Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn tweeted that he took comfort in the fact that he saw determination "on all sides to conclude the negotiations". Another round of three-way talks is scheduled for 17 October, although the date has yet to be confirmed.

The first result: the legislative package on the Union's Structural Funds 2014-2020 will not be put to a vote at the European Parliament's plenary of 21-24 October, as was initially planned. These reports should have been adopted by the Committee on Regional Development (REGI) on 14 October to include the compromise found with the Council. But there is no compromise...

It is therefore likely that the reports will be adopted in November. As the next REGI meeting is scheduled for 27-28 November and Parliament's next plenary session will take place before that date (on 24-27 November in Strasbourg), a solution will have to be found to secure REGI's support. REGI Chair Danuta Hubner (EPP, Poland) would prefer to convoke an extraordinary meeting. Another solution, also acceptable under the code of conduct on co-decision negotiations, would be an agreement via the negotiating teams and the coordinators of the political groups.

This delay could also hold up the vote on the multiannual financial framework (MFF) as Parliament has always said that the dossiers were linked (unless an agreement is reached on 17 October, followed by an express REGI committee meeting or an agreement between negotiators and coordinators).

Macroeconomic conditionality is still the main obstacle. The Council of Ministers believes it could lead to the suspension of funds in the event of a macroeconomic imbalance or excessive budgetary deficit (not automatically, though: only if states do not take the requisite measures to fix it). Those who thought that Parliament would back down closer to the voting date were sorely mistaken. Opening the REGI committee meeting, on 14 October, Hubner once again stated that her team had made their conditions for a potential compromise clear to the Council and that these conditions involved "having full co-decision on the decision on suspension". Several member states still find it difficult to accept this. At the end of September, French Minister for European Affairs Thierry Repentin emphasised that "Parliament would not be involved in a suspension procedure of funds because the treaties do not allow it to do so".

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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Oct 16, 2013
Words:410
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